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12 Ways to Make Your Son’s Wife Love You

Your daughter-in-law may be ready to assume your moniker rhymes with witch, but you'll show her. Sally Koslow lets us in on the secret.

Brava, mom! That adorable hunk of manhood, who may be 38 with a receding hairline and a gut but who will always be your baby boy, is a husband. This makes charming, lovable youa mother-in-law. On a family tree overgrown with stereotypes—drunk uncles, nosy aunts, confirmed bachelor—is there a more reviled cliché? The role comes prepackaged: add water, beat, bake, cool and serve to one smirking daughter-in-law predisposed to assuming your moniker rhymes with witch.

On Thursday, Nov. 10th, we’ll be talking to author Sally Koslow about her new book, The Real Mrs. Tobias, a saga of love, honor, and mothers-in-law. Sign up for this free virtual event here.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Even if you’ve already logged gaffes, it’s not too late to adopt these rules of civility and improve your relationship with the person who has now replaced you as the most important woman in your son’s life: his wife.

Read More: Can the Mother-Son Bond Last After He Gets Married?

The 12 Ingredients in the Secret Sauce

Your daughter-in-law may have virtues that differ from your own. Find them. Praise them.

  1. Accept that you’ve been downgraded. You may not have been bumped all the way back to a toilet-adjacent economy seat, but you can wave goodbye to your throne in First Class, where you’ve grown accustomed to washing down caviar with Comtes Grande Cru. If you want your son’s marriage to work, respect that he needs to adhere to the happy-wife-happy-life principle. This means she comes first. You’ll get used to it. Eventually.
  2. Don’t trash talk your daughter-in-law in front of a doorbell. If you still text with one finger you may not realize high-tech doorbells have cameras. She’ll hear every word and you’ll never see your grandchildren again.
  3. Wear a turtleneck to your son’s wedding, or similar, even if the ceremony is in Las Vegas and your décolletage is the best east of Hollywood. Think Daytime Emmys, not Oscars.  This is why beige was invented.
  4. If your daughter-in-law criticizes your son, consider that he may deserve it. The only person who thinks he’s perfect is you.
  5. Never ask when she’ll make you a grandmother. Do you really need this explained?
  6. Share your opinions strictly on request. Leave it to your son to explain that when making tuna fish salad, it’s advisable to drain the oil from the can and that you are not required by law to exclusively use Hellman’s mayonnaise. Some people actually prefer Miracle Whip, just like they butter ham sandwiches, eat steak well-done and deep fry their Oreos.
  7. Realize that you can have a Ph.D. yet not know how to make a hospital corner. Your daughter-in-law may have virtues that differ from your own. Find them. Praise them.
  8. Even if they are an unbeatable bargain at Costco, you are no longer allowed to buy underwear for your son. And play fair with gifts. If you give him a new set of golf clubs for Christmas, don’t give her a scale.
  9. Respect your daughter-law’s boundaries. What word of “No posts about me on social media, please” don’t you get? You may be able to negotiate a family picture for a holiday card if you don’t make her wear a sweater that says Feel the Joy with male hands that belong to a former senator groping a pair of boobs.
  10. Understand that your daughter-in-law is not a rival. She can’t help being younger and free of spider veins, wrinkles and cataracts. Hopefully, you’ll live long enough to see nature take its toll but no longer be the sort of shallow woman who notices such flaws.
  11. Do not crash your son’s honeymoon unless you’re Molly Shannon in The White Lotus.
  12. It’s ok to pop by unannounced. Just checking to see if you read til the end. Don’t do that. Ever.


Sally Koslow is the author of the novel The Real Mrs. Tobias, as well as the novels Another Side of Paradise; the international bestseller The Late, Lamented Molly MarxThe Widow WaltzWith Friends Like These; and Little Pink Slips. She is also the author of one work of nonfiction, Slouching Toward Adulthood: How to Let Go So Your Kids Can Grow Up

By Sally Koslow


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